Apple releases iOS 4.2

iPad users get multitasking, app folders, Game Center, and the new AirPlay and AirPrint.

Apple has just announced that iOS 4.2 will be available today for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch users.

The update to Apple's mobile operating system brings more than 100 iOS 4 features to the iPad for the first time, including multitasking, app folders, unified inbox, Game Center, and new features such as AirPlay and AirPrint. Apple iPad users running iOS 4.2 can also rent TV episodes directly from the iTunes Store. The migration even offers a few treats for select iPhone and iPod Touch users, such as an iOS 4.2-compatible Find My iPhone app that helps you track down your missing device.

To get the iOS update on your device, make sure you are running iTunes 10.1 and then just sync your iOS devices. You should then be prompted to install iOS 4.2. If it's not available, try the sync process later in the day.

Here's a look at the highlights from Apple's iOS 4.2.

AirPrint

AirPrint allows you to print directly from your iOS device to a network printer. Originally, the plan was to allow you to print directly to newer AirPrint-compatible printers or to print to older printers through a shared connection on a Mac or PC. But, as expected, Apple pulled shared printer support and AirPrint will work only with wireless printers that can interface directly with iOS 4.2 devices.

Currently, only Hewlett-Packard offers printers compatible with AirPrint including Photosmart, Officejet, Officejet Pro and LaserJet Pro series ePrint enabled printers.

AirPlay

Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod touch devices running iOS 4.2 can use AirPlay to stream photos, music and video directly to the new Apple TV. AirPlay also enables iOS 4.2 devices to stream wirelessly to AirPlay-enabled speakers that are expected to hit the market in the coming months.

Find My iPhone App

If you own an iPhone 4, iPad or new iPod Touch (4th generation, late 2010) you can use Apple's Find My iPhone service for free without a Mobile Me subscription. Find my iPhone lets you locate your lost device on a map, have your device make a sound so you can find it or even have your device display a message such as "I'm lost help!"

All you need to do to use the service is download the Find My iPhone application from iTunes.

Multitasking and Folders for iPad

Finally, iPad users will be able to listen to music on Pandora while surfing the Web, checking Twitter or reading e-mail thanks to iOS 4.2's multitasking feature. IPhone and iPad Touch users have had the feature for some time, but this will likely be a welcome addition for iPad users -- despite the debate over Apple's approach to iOS multitasking. Similarly, iPad users can also group apps into folders to save on screen space and pack more applications onto their devices. For a complete rundown of multitasking and folders check out PC World's iOS 4 review.

Apple is hoping the release of iOS 4.2 will help the company sell a lot of new iPads heading into the holidays. Company CEO Steve Jobs recently said, "iOS 4.2 makes the iPad a completely new product, just in time for the holiday season."

But the big question is whether people are willing to line up for an iPad when a refreshed tablet device from Apple is rumored to be coming in early 2011?

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul) and Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.

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Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
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